Can We Afford Renewable Energy?

Authored by Erico Matias Tavares via Sinclair & Co.,

Over a decade ago we got involved in the development of the biofuels industry in Europe, when it began to take off in earnest there.

At that time estimated profits from biodiesel production created considerable enthusiasm, which at one point turned euphoric with new production facilities being announced almost on a weekly basis.

What was not to like? Europeans would get to drive their cars using green, very low-carbon, seemingly affordable fuels, saving the environment in the process. And investors would make a ton of money.

However, reality turned out to be rather more complicated than that, much to the chagrin of those investors. Production margins were quite volatile and very difficult to hedge into the future. All that new demand ended up spiking the prices of vegetable oils – the key biodiesel production input – way above those of fossil fuels. Entire domestic production complexes went bust as a result, prompting governments across Europe to eventually implement a range of support measures to make biofuels part of the fuel mix.

Biodiesel became the biofuel of choice in Europe for many reasons. It can be used as a blend component for diesel or replace it completely (typically referred to as B100, or biodiesel 100%). Both options were available in many pumps across Germany, the industry's pioneer and largest European market by far at that time. Despite being staunch environmental supporters and relatively wealthy, when the price of a liter of B100 was higher just by one cent German consumers immediately switched to its fossil fuel counterpart.

In other words, when push came to shove the willingness to pay for a "green" premium was not there - even in one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. This stunned us at the time.

Making green energy affordable is a real challenge since it faces a number of constraints that drive up its cost especially in relation to fossil fuels, which remain society's lowest common energy denominator (current biofuel production itself depends at various points on fossil fuel availability). This cost disadvantage is particularly evident in a related – and far less elastic – energy sector: renewable power.

This relates to the production of electricity as opposed to transport, although progress in electric vehicle technology is gradually merging the two (very gradually in fact). Since the turn of this century much of the expansion of this sector across Europe has centered on wind and solar (photovoltaic) energy. This was part of the Old Continent’s efforts to become less dependent on foreign sources and meet its carbon reduction goals.

2016 Installed Wind + Solar Capacity (W/head)

The graph above shows installed wind and solar capacity across the European Union on a per capita basis at the end of 2016.

Generally speaking, wealthier member states tend to have more installed capacity in these types of renewable power (more on that below). On a per capita basis Denmark is the indisputable wind champion of Europe and Germany has much higher solar than anyone else, including its Southern European counterparts that benefit from much more favorable Sun exposure.

The graph above shows the substantial growth in renewable power in Germany in recent years. Impressive indeed. What is perhaps less obvious is the impact of all that investment in new energy sources on electricity prices.

And that is what the graph above investigates, correlating installed wind and solar capacity per capita with household electricity prices.

The results are pretty striking. Despite the many factors that can influence electricity prices installed wind and solar capacity appear to be particularly significant as evidenced by the high fit of the regression (almost 78%, 100% being a perfect fit).

Germany and Denmark stand out again, this time in terms of high electricity prices. Given that both have significant domestic industrial sectors, particularly Germany, how can they charge such high prices for electricity?

The keyword in the graph is *household* electricity prices. Industrial and other large users do not pay anywhere near in those and other countries across Europe, as shown in the following graph.

1H 2016 Household and Industry/Other Prices (€/kWh)

The difference in prices charged to both groups is significant. In particular, households in Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Portugal pay considerably more than their industrial / other counterparts.

How so?

Industries need to be competitive to stay in business and electricity is generally a major cost component. As such governments try to mitigate the impact of their energy policies on them, otherwise they close shop and the jobs go elsewhere. Since households cannot leave as easily they are the ones that end up footing a disproportionate amount of the national electricity bill, especially in Germany where industry accounts for the largest share of consumption. Unlike B100 consumers cannot switch out so easily.

But since carbon mitigation is high on policy agendas, how can this greening of the energy power mix be replicated elsewhere? Is Germany an appropriate case study for the rest of the world?

The graph above correlates the premium paid by households relative to their industry/other counterparts with nominal expenditures on a per capital basis across the EU. We excluded Luxembourg from this analysis, a small country with extremely high expenditure per capita given its focus on services, which would skew the results in a relatively small sample, although not by much.

A positive correlation can be observed with a regression fit of about 47%, which is significant in light of all other factors that impact such differential (like government policy and differences in consumption profiles, for instance).

Renewable power is expensive. Quite expensive in fact.

As a result, using current technologies governments are forced to make a choice between expanding their domestic production of wind and solar or having cheap electricity. There are no two ways about it.

This is based on the results for Europe, but there is little reason to believe this would be largely different elsewhere. In the US, for example, it is no secret that “coal country” states offer much cheaper electricity prices than “green” states like California.

A possible way to avoid this trade-off is to find some really cheap renewable power technology. Even if this could be done tomorrow, it takes quite a bit of time for those projects to reach critical mass and make a difference in the electrical pool. We are talking decades here, not years.

In the meantime, to avoid hitting the productive sector too much, households will be called to continually bear a disproportionate amount of the bill. This is easier to achieve both in political and financial terms in wealthier countries. Indeed, this is the main goal of the Paris Climate Accord, where wealthy Western households are being asked to subsidize not only green power in their own countries but across much of the developing world as well.

So can we afford renewable energy?

The answer, as always, depends on how rich you are.


old_cynic Sat, 01/06/2018 - 19:33 Permalink

Bullshit. The answer is NO, as a society, we CANNOT afford pretend-clean 'green' pie-in-the-sky solutions that don't *actually* keep the lights on.

Moe-Monay old_cynic Sat, 01/06/2018 - 19:34 Permalink

Only the normy nonengineers ever believe in this alt energy stuff.  I've extensively looked into power generation for crypto mining purposes.  If I could I would burn coal. 0.5 cents per kwhr and that's with retail coal pricing.  I'm sure it goes down 50% at least from there.  Problem for me of course is that you need very expensive steam generation equipment.

Don't get me wrong I'll probably install some surplus solar panels on my houses but I do not have unrealistic expectations.  Additionally I'll be taking advantage of the severe losses the contractor is taking in the shorts liquidating panels from cancelled projects.

In reply to by old_cynic

Slack Jack TBT or not TBT Sat, 01/06/2018 - 19:58 Permalink

Can We Afford Renewable Energy?

Can You Afford NOT to have Renewable Energy?

Record-Setting Hurricanes; Record temperatures; Record-Setting Wildfires; ya think it might be global warming?


So, why is the global rise in temperatures so worrisome?

For one thing, as temperatures rise good farmland will become desert (e.g., dust-bowl conditions will probably return to the American Midwest).

Another major problem is sea-level rise.

Have a look at

or a copy of that page at

The U.S. Geological Survey people claim that;

The Greenland ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 6.55 meters (21.5 feet),
the West Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 8.06 meters (26.4 feet),
the East Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 64.8 meters (212.6 feet),
and all other ice melting will raise sea-level 0.91 meters (3 feet).

For a grand total of about 80 meters (263 feet).

So, what does an 80 meter (263 feet) rise in sea-level mean. Have a look at the following map of the world after an 80 meter rise. It means that over one billion people will have to be resettled to higher ground and that much of the most productive agricultural land will be under water. Fortunately, at current rates, the Greenland ice sheet will take over a thousand years to melt and the Antarctica ice sheet, much longer. However, the greater the temperature rise the faster the ice sheets will melt, bringing the problem much closer. Remember, the huge ice sheet that recently covered much of North America, almost completely melted in only 15,000 years (today, only the Greenland ice sheet, and some other small patches of it, remain). Since then (15,000 years ago), sea-levels have risen about 125 meters (410 feet), only 80 meters to go.

The ice sheets have been continuously melting for thousands of years. What is left of them today, is still melting, and will continue to melt. Human caused global warning will cause this remnant to melt significantly faster. This is a big, big, problem.

For HUGE detailed maps of the "World after the Melt" go to:

Global temperatures are increasing. And by quite a lot each year.

2016 is the hottest year on record for global temperatures.

This is 0.0380 degrees centigrade hotter than the previous record year which was 2015.

0.0380 is a large increase in just one year.

2015 was the hottest year (at that time) for global temperatures.

This was 0.1601 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2014.

0.1601 is an absolutely huge increase in just one year (at this rate temperatures would increase by 16 degrees in a century).

2014 was the hottest year (at that time) for global temperatures.

This was 0.0402 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2010.

The conspiracy to hide global warming data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is given tax money to make global temperature records available to the public. However, certain people at NOAA continually sabotage this aspect of NOAA's mandate. For example, these people have (deliberately) sabotaged the web-page that delivers the temperature records.

Look for yourself:

Go to the page: scroll down to the The Global Anomalies and Index Data section and click the download button and see what happens. Well, you get the message:

"Not Found. The requested URL /monitoring-references/faq/anomalies-download was not found on this server."

I guess that the 2017 data must be truly horrible if they have to hide it away.

In reply to by TBT or not TBT

jeff montanye ScratInTheHat Sun, 01/07/2018 - 03:37 Permalink

even if there is nothing to human increased global warming due to burning fossil fuels, it's certainly pollution with attendant costs and noxious effects. solar and wind energy are cost competitive with coal in sunny and windy places now. while germany and denmark have some wind resources, they are north of nova scotia generally (above 50 degrees north latitude) so solar is a bit of a challenge. but the places that are going to be putting in serious electrical capacity in the near future are between 40 degrees north and 40 degrees south latitude, lots more sunny. and, with natural gas combined cycle, wind and solar account for most of the new capacity added in the last few years globally.……

In reply to by ScratInTheHat

bluez jeff montanye Sun, 01/07/2018 - 07:26 Permalink

I'm looking at sugar beets. Unlike corn, these sugar beets can grow just about anywhere, even in salt water. They produce methane, which is very good as stored energy. Just do not burn the byproduct. Recycle the nutrients, by composting. Fertilizers are becoming stupidly expensive.

For global warming enthusiasts, they soak up exactly as much CO2 as the fuel they produce releases.

Global warming is real, and is the direct result of people using up so much energy arguing about global warming.

In reply to by jeff montanye

P4K jeff montanye Sun, 01/07/2018 - 12:39 Permalink

From your own references you posted, combined cycle natural gas is as cheap or cheaper than wind or solar AND RUNS WHEN YOU WANT IT AND NOT JUST WHEN THE WIND BLOWS! It also does not need very costly back up (more natural gas or nuke gen) or very costly storage techniques, and already has an installed base of transmission lines, land, and other infrastructure. 

The levelized cost in your sources does not include the cost of backup generation or storage needed for solar or wind. Solar and wind are USELESS without the existing reliability provided by a fossil-run grid--we can have an all fossil grid, but we cannot have an all (or even majority) renewable grid. If we want energy when the wind is not blowing or sun is not shining we need very expensive battery back-up or an entirely redundant fossil system (the current plan--German and California $.30 KW prices for all--instead of $.03 KW wholesale natural gas). Do you see how stupid this is? Solar and wind are just a very expensive, totally unnecessary add-on to a HIGHLY RELIABLE, highly sophisticated, functioning, cheap, largely paid-for, and fully-utilized electrical grid. 

No, we can't afford any of this, but let's just keep borrowing/printing money and continue building out completely redundant and unnecessary electrical grids that still can only really function without almost identical amounts of fossil fuel usage! And when the renewable grid produces too much electricity--WE WILL PAY OTHER COUNTRIES TO TAKE IT OFF OUR HANDS! Beyond Stupid. 

In reply to by jeff montanye

goose3 Slack Jack Sat, 01/06/2018 - 20:43 Permalink

I believe that climate change is in part human caused.  I also believe there's almost nothing we can do about it.  Thus we're better off trying to adapt to climate change than to try to forestall it.

There are 1600 coal-fired power plants either under construction, in the permitting process, or on the drawing boards.  That's 1 per week for the next 30 years.

There is no reasonable way, politically or economically, that we can offset that much of an increase in greenhouse gas generation with cutbacks elsewhere.

BTW, I teach in the renewable energy area at a university.  I'm reasonably well-informed on these issues.  It always bugs me that people simply don't do the math.

In reply to by Slack Jack

Slack Jack goose3 Sat, 01/06/2018 - 22:30 Permalink

goose3 Jan 6, 2018 8:43 PM "I also believe there's almost nothing we can do about it (global warming)."

You are NOT reasonably well-informed on these issues: look up Carbon Sequestration.

Once CO2 is captured from a gas or coal-fired power plant, it would be compressed to ≈100 bar so that it would be a supercritical fluid. In this fluid form, the CO2 would be easy to transport via pipeline to the place of storage. The CO2 would then be injected deep underground, typically around 1 km, where it would be stable for hundreds to millions of years. At these storage conditions, the density of supercritical CO2 is 600 to 800 kg / m3. For consumers, the cost of electricity from a coal-fired power plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) is estimated to be 0.01 - 0.05 $ / kWh higher than without CCS. For reference, the average cost of electricity in the US in 2004 was 0.0762 $ / kWh. In other terms, the cost of CCS would be 20 - 70 $/ton of CO2 captured. The transportation and injection of CO2 is relatively cheap, with the capture costs accounting for 70 - 80% of CCS costs.

In reply to by goose3

D503 Slack Jack Sun, 01/07/2018 - 08:18 Permalink

Carbon sequestration has its own energy footprint and an impossible demand for locations to store it. Compressing co2 to a liquid state requires energy and transporting it to sparse and unevenly distributed locations wastes more. 

Where are you going to GET all that energy? Fossil fuels obviously. 

Where is the solar powered factory that makes solar panels? Why doesn't it exist?

In reply to by Slack Jack

Diatom Slack Jack Sat, 01/06/2018 - 20:56 Permalink

What a fucking stupid discussion...

In 2017  were built 90 million cars worldwide.

If you add previous years, at this point there are more than a billion cars running worldwide.

Shouldn´t we be using carbon fuels to fabricate sollar panels and windmills?

Why the fuck do you want a piece of shit combustion car, if you can have an electric car charged at home with your own solar panels and windmills!

People insist in buying fucking gasoline...

Fuck! Humans are stupid as fuck!

In reply to by Slack Jack

GubbermintWorker Diatom Sun, 01/07/2018 - 09:51 Permalink

I'll tell you why, stupid fuck. Some of us live in areas not suited for either solar or wind. I live on a heavily wooded lot. I also drive older combustion vehicles that I paid less than $10,000, drive til they start costing more money to maintain, and then get another cheap car  I'm not going to go in debt to buy a fucking $30+ thousand dollar electric car and then have to replace the batteries down the road.  

In reply to by Diatom

kbohip Diatom Sun, 01/07/2018 - 13:22 Permalink

Because most of us aren't smug hipsters like yourself that know nothing of how cars work and just pretend that electricity is a free commodity because your God Elon says so?  Solar panels and windmills at your home won't provide nearly the energy necessary required to get you reliably to even get you to work everyday no matter what your fellow Tesla apologist soyboys tell you.  It's amazing just how clueless you lot really are about cars and how they work.

In reply to by Diatom

Diatom kbohip Sun, 01/07/2018 - 15:55 Permalink

An internal combustion engine can burn anything flamable: Diesel, querosene, gasoline, methane, hidrogen, water gas, butane, propane, ethanol, thinner, wood gas... The list is endless.

The Ford T was meant to use ethanol not gasoline, it was a decentralized fuel, but the fucking Rockefellers and Standard hijacked the market.



In reply to by kbohip

TheEndIsNear Slack Jack Sat, 01/06/2018 - 21:41 Permalink

The climate was changing long before humans came on the scene and will continue changing long after we are gone. Carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas is a myth. CO2 makes plants grow. Plants consume CO2 and produces oxygen. The ratio of Oxygen to CO2 is determined by the ratio of plants (primarily plankton in the seas) to animals or other oxygen consumers and CO2 producers.

In reply to by Slack Jack

Slack Jack TheEndIsNear Sat, 01/06/2018 - 22:35 Permalink

TheEndIsNear Jan 6, 2018 9:41 PM "The climate was changing long before humans came on the scene and will continue changing long after we are gone."

So what? Your statement is not an argument for anything much.

The price of gold was changing with small fluctuations around $US 35 for decades,....

So, it will always be around $US 35,.... right?

But in 1980 the price of gold was suddenly $US 850.

In reply to by TheEndIsNear

jaxville Slack Jack Sat, 01/06/2018 - 23:03 Permalink

  I used to read Scientific American until around 1990.  That's when the editors lost their collective minds and decided to accept the global warming theory they previously rejected.  All I remember about the last issue I read was that by 2000 several South pacific Islands would be gone, the Arctic Ocean would be ice free, and severe flooding taking place along the Eastern seaboard unless seawalls were not immediately constructed.

  Point is that the editorial policy of that magazine changed due to pressure and emotional based theories rather than good science.  I am happy to say I saw that nonsense for what it was over twenty five years ago.

In reply to by Slack Jack

GrumpyGrump jaxville Sun, 01/07/2018 - 07:05 Permalink

Not sure what year it was, but Soros bought SciAm back around the time they lost "Scientific" as a goal, and chose to become an agent of indoctrination. It used to be my favorite magazine, until their savage ad hominem attack on Bjorn Lomborg for challenging the orthodoxy. I doubt that more than a tiny number of people noticed the loss.

In reply to by jaxville

OverTheHedge TheEndIsNear Sun, 01/07/2018 - 07:48 Permalink

That only works if we as a species don't keep destroying the environment. 50% of the available land mass of the world is farmed. Apparently. Deforestation is the big issue. Slack jack says carbon sequestration is a good idea, when any normal human being can see that it is insane. Why not sequester the carbon in MORE trees? Because that would mean evicting humans from their farms, and then starving them. Politically, normally only something you can do to people in other countries, although Stalin managed OK, as did Mao.

From the article: "A possible way to avoid this trade-off is to find some really cheap renewable power technology."

In other words, if we can't rewrite the laws of physics, we are in all kinds of trouble.

My 10kw solar panel array has just paid for itself, after 6 years, but only because I get paid a ridiculously high rate for my power. If I had to compete in a fair market, it wouldn't make sense to install them for my own use, let alone actually sell the generated power. I'm still looking for the holy grail over-unity unicorn, but it seems to be mythical at the moment.


In reply to by TheEndIsNear

Posa Slack Jack Sat, 01/06/2018 - 22:31 Permalink

Fake news Nonsense. The IPCC AR5 debunked claims of a rise in Extreme Weather... sure, Extreme Weather events cost a lot... If you're so concerned, stop issuing building permits in flood zones or on the ocean shoreline along with cheap, subsidized Federal flood insurance.


The rest is the usual tripe. There has been an extended temperature hiatus for almost two decades, only interrupted by a large El Nino... which is in no way associated with CO2 levels... Temperatures have dropped back close to PAUSE levels... and remain way below the climate models predicting catastrophe a century from now.


The global temperature data itself is fairly worthless... vast stretches of sea-surface are not even recorded (especially the Southern Hemisphere)... nor are temperatures at the poles and remote areas in Africa and Asia adequately sampled (typically temperatures a 1000 km away are interpolated and assigned to the unmeasured regions of the Earth).... nor is the Urban Heat Island effect fully captured.

In reply to by Slack Jack

CingRed Slack Jack Sun, 01/07/2018 - 01:19 Permalink

Well you lost all credibility when you start pointing out a 3 year rise in temps as being proof of AGW.  This is the same Chicken Little screaming that had the "settled science" of the 60's and 70's screaming that a new ice age was upon us.  Go study statistics and then start looking at variations within decades and centuries to figure out what the standard deviations are.  Do some gauge R & R work on the base data sources.  You point out that " ice sheets have been continuously melting for thousands of years"; this is absolutely false.  They have been both advancing and receding over the course of the last several millennia, and if you look at the longer scale, like the last 500,000 years you will find that there are warm spells lasting between 10 and 15 thousand years separated by ice ages lasting 85 to 95 thousand years.  We are 12 to 13 thousand years into the current warming spell.  Just why exactly do you expect that this one won't also end in an ice age?  The factors driving these  long term changes have nothing to do with people being around in quantity.  The apparent "average" over the long term is much colder than it is now.  Civilization might want to enjoy the warmth while it lasts, because it won't last.  Just exactly how do you plan to grow food on ice covered land?  Where I live today was 3 miles under ice 15,000 years ago.  It will come again.  Climate variation is a fact.  Causation of the current 3 decade trend is speculation trying to ride a false horse named settled science on the saddle of profiteering.

In reply to by Slack Jack

Singelguy Slack Jack Sun, 01/07/2018 - 08:21 Permalink

There is no doubt that the climate is changing but that is nothing new. The climate has been changing for thousands of years. What is new is your contention that the current climate change is man made but fail to provide one shred of evidence to support your case. You never consider for one second that this climate change might be part of a larger natural cycle. However, you seem quick to believe that paying governments trillions in extra tax dollars will somehow change the climate back to “normal”, whatever that means. You conveniently forget that government can’t do anything, never mind control the climate. The “environmentalists” claim that CO2 emissions have to be reduced in order to reduce global temperatures, even though CO2 concentrations are much lower now than during the time of the dinosaurs (when fossil fuels did not exist). Another factor you might want to consider. Annual volcanic eruptions above and below water spew more CO2 and SO2 into the atmosphere than all the cars, trains, and planes combined. Will the trillions in extra tax dollars be used to plug all the world’s volcanoes? The bottom line is, the climate IS changing, but the cause of that climate change is NOT settled science. It is more complex than we think so try to be a little more open minded and less alarmist.

In reply to by Slack Jack

P4K Slack Jack Sun, 01/07/2018 - 23:14 Permalink

NOAA and NASA have lowered historical temperatures (1940's blip) and increased recent historical temperatures so much that no one can tell what the hell the historical record is anymore. I think they absolutely freaked out when their models were missing so bad from 1995 through 2012 and started faking historical data and refitting models to make it look like it was still getting warmer... and then the 2015 El Nino came along and it really did get warmer and now their fake data plus real warming makes it look like its hell on earth right now (although we know it is not). 


I have been fitting historical data to earn a living in the markets my whole life and know exactly what these "climate scientists" are going through. Their models are not predictive, they are not working, they are too warm. So... They suddenly find something back in the past that makes their models work better and it becomes 97% consensus fact. To wit: Liquid thermometer to electronic thermometer cools the past; time of observation adjustment (old timers were idiots) cools the past, Ship to buoy adjustment cools the past SST (and the derived surface temp), Glacial Isostatic Adjustment net increases the land level resulting in more sea level rise than we are actually measuring, falling satellites over time cool the past and increase the present temperatures vis a vis the raw satellite data.... over and over again we cool the raw data and warm the present; over and over again we make the sea level rise larger than what we are really experiencing.


I really feel sorry for these "climate scientists." I know they really think they are on a mission from God and they feel like the angels are on their side so it is OK to relentlessly tweak their models and change the historical record. I've been there. I know they think they are on to something and that they are on the side of Good. But they are not. They are just hindsight trading model fitters. Their models don't work, and when they don't, they have the power to change the historical tape. Assholes. Slack Jack--you are a dumbass.

In reply to by Slack Jack

MK ULTRA Alpha Moe-Monay Sat, 01/06/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

I advocate loosening restricts to drive investment spending for greater  hydrocarbon production, we need to drill and produce as much as possible. One of the reasons for our recent 3% GDP growth was because the price of hydrocarbons had been cut in half, it was like a huge tax relieve and it took 18 months from the start of lower gas prices until the recent 3% growth rate.

Solar panel investment is paying dividends because many projects are half way or close to paying down the cost of deployment. This will be a good return- cash stream for those companies, utilities and individuals to reinvest some or all of their earnings in more solar. I advocate solar not as an alternative but as an investment in energy freedom/independence for the individual, (the lone citizen), from big oil, OPEC and energy cost inflation.

As for Bitcoin and the rest, regulation is coming, there is no escape, Wall Street and the state want their cut because Bitcoin is cutting out business for banks. Either share some of the pie, or be prohibited by the state.

In reply to by Moe-Monay

D503 Moe-Monay Sun, 01/07/2018 - 01:06 Permalink

From one eng to another...go with a wood fueled boiler. Much simpler, and you can build in redundancies and ALWAYS have access to your fuel source. Might have to wack off a few dozen pavement apes and white welfare queens, but it will be there.

Added bonus? Steam driven machine shop can manufacture every component needed to build itself.

In reply to by Moe-Monay

bluez D503 Sun, 01/07/2018 - 07:43 Permalink

Everything looks great until you actually try to, you know, do it. Let's say you haul wood out of the forest and burn it. Then what? It turns out that most of the nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.) are in the wood, not in the ground, and they then get concentrated in the (radioactive) ash. So the forests do not re-grow. So you're screwed again.

In reply to by D503

giorgioorwell old_cynic Sat, 01/06/2018 - 20:03 Permalink

LOL.  Yeah, the future is coal and oil.

Tell that to GE, who fired 12,000 natural gas turbine factory workers from lack of demand, the markets/numbers don't lie, and this isn't in Europe:…

Also remove the hundreds of billions of clear and hidden subsidies that the oil and gas industry receive each year, our entire Middle East Policy, propping up of the Kingdom of Saud, cost of endless war supporting oil rich dictators, and you'll pretty soon be looking at $150 a barrel oil geniuses.  

In reply to by old_cynic

JuliaS old_cynic Sat, 01/06/2018 - 20:11 Permalink

If oil was only energy, we'd be half way there replacing it. The real problem, however, is that oil just as valuable as the byproducts it leaves behind - asphalt, plastic, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, paint solvent, synthetic textile etc.

None of the green alternatives produce physical byproduct that can be positively utilized. Oil produces materials, many of which are used in manufacturing of green tech. In fact, I'd argue that 99% of green tech is viable economically only for as long as they're made using oil infrastructure.

If a turbine or a solar panel had to produce enough energy to push the mining trucks, dig holes in the ground, extract, process, refine and mold the materials used to make wind turbines and solar panels, then you'd discover it was a zero sum game.

Another conversion scheme. A sleight of hand. Green is not how we save the planet. Green is how we waste oil on pet projects, while running out of the cheap stuff every single day.

In reply to by old_cynic

Posa JuliaS Sat, 01/06/2018 - 22:59 Permalink

Let's get serious. LPPFusion of Middlesex NJ has built an experimental aneutronic fusion reactor (FF-1). This IS NOT the standard tokomak design, but fusion using other configurations and approached ("Dense Plasma Focus")


The FF-1 device has hit 3 Billion degrees C (which is necessary to preclude radioactive waste or contamination as a by product)... and held that temperature long enough for a reaction. The last step is to eliminate random molecules during the heating phase of the reaction from contaminating the plasma and thwarting the fusion process.

The LPPFusion team is currently installing the designs and materials for reaching fusion and should have definitive results by mid- 2018. The FF-1 is currently #5 on the Fusion leader board and expects to hit net fusion output with the final, planned upgrade. The company is privately funded (crowd sourced) and the total budget since inception is $5 M. Recently research agreements were signed with UC San Diego (which is building a replica of FF-1) ... and two national labs in Poland which specialize in Dense Plasma Focus.


Fusion Leader Board: 


How it works 


Reaching ignition



In reply to by JuliaS

D503 Posa Sun, 01/07/2018 - 01:14 Permalink

So let's get serious. You claim that someone has demonstrated that they have overcome the p vs np paradox and the hodge conjecture. Let's see the propeller that doesn't cause cavitation then.

Fusion cannot be controlled. It will run away because there simply is no way of stabilizing a mass that wants to adjust for gravity and has billions upon billions of variables dependent on us solving fluid dynamics.

We will have a working model of climate change that can accurately predict the weather in your town years from now, decades before a "safe" fusion reactor can be brought online.  

Scientifically illiterate, you might as well have faith in flat earth and oil that grows in the earth. Just another sucker venture capitalist who can't admit he is throwing good money after bad, or a con man. Take your pick.

In reply to by Posa

D503 bluez Sun, 01/07/2018 - 08:32 Permalink

Like Diogenes searched for an honest man with a lamp during the day; why not simply try to build it yourself instead of having faith in others who are asking for research money. Star Trek had some great scientific sounding words that means nothing in actual physics, chemistry, and mathematics. 

"Boron fusion," "inertial containment," and "safe, slow neutrons," are all nonsense statements because they still don't overcome our extremely poor tolerances on fluid dynamics.  Remember, all of these people had the same training as the next physicist, or engineer. Why not find one you know and ask? 

In reply to by bluez

New_Meat bluez Sun, 01/07/2018 - 09:09 Permalink

bluz, put down the bong, clear your head, and do just a tiny bit of studying.

  • "Unsafe at any speed" fast neutrons zip around and don't hurt nobody
  • Then add moderator, it can be water, graphite, heavy water, why it can even be the fat in your lazy body as you lie on your mom's  couch.
  • And, Voila! you get slow neutrons.  These are the guys we're interested in using, they make all the good fissions and release all of that energy that people love to hate, until they get shoved into God's icebox, at night, with the wind above 60 kph.


In reply to by bluez

bluez New_Meat Sun, 01/07/2018 - 13:02 Permalink

Look New_Meat (I don't eat pork simply because they feed pigs garbage): I am not a physicist, and even if I were only about 5% of them are specialized enough to make authoritative pronouncements about fusion reactors. Plus I haven't read up on the subject for some time, so I could be wrong here and there.

# Fast neutrons: some are much faster than others, but only really slow ones are harmless. They decay into a proton, an electron, and an electron-type antineutrino in about 15 minutes. The fast neutrons will kill you, and you can't use water or graphite to slow them down in a magnetic confinement reactor, for various reasons, such as heat dissipation. Maybe you could use tungsten, since most materials would disintegrate from the heat and plasma. However the fast neutrons will "corrode" the walls in a magnetically confinement fusion reactor, so the whole giant thing will need to be replaced constantly, and this is not sustainable. The neutrons have to move at certain speeds, not too fast or too slow, to stimulate fission, but we are talking fusion here, not fission.

# Confinement and boron fusion. I was mostly wrong about inertial confinement; nuclear bombs utilize that. Most slow neutron fusion reactors mostly use plasma pinch effect confinement, in discrete bursts. And they don't actually use just boron; they usually use tritium plus boron fusion. This produces electron beams and X-rays, which can be directly converted into electricity.

# Magnetic confinement fusion always produces super-fast neutrons that are very difficult to moderate and in practice always "eat up" the entire system. And also they leave behind deadly long-lived isotopes in the materials they "eat-up".

In reply to by New_Meat

Posa bluez Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:11 Permalink

The DPF approach uses the pinch effect property of plasma and electric currents to guide the fusion process, rather than brute force it with magnets or ablation from lasers. The LPPFusion team has cranked up their reactor to 3 billion C and maintained the reaction long enough to fuse. The last step is a symmetric burn that achieves proper densities... and that will be resolved in the next few months.

In reply to by bluez